Update on School Staff Vaccines
Dear Sonoma County School Community,
We are writing to update you on the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE’s) school staff vaccination efforts. While there have been setbacks, we are excited and encouraged about the progress made so far.
How Many School Staff Have Been Vaccinated?
We were authorized by the County of Sonoma to begin giving vaccines on Monday, Feb. 8. Since then, we have slowly but steadily increased our weekly vaccination numbers, as we gained both experience and vaccine supply. As of Friday, Feb. 26, we will have given out 4,200 vaccines - despite supply setbacks due to the winter storms in the midwest. This could not be possible without a wonderful team of school nurses, IT professionals, administrative staff, and volunteers that include parents, community members, and more. We are grateful to you all.
Who Has Been Vaccinated So Far - and Why?
During the first week of the clinic, the County of Sonoma asked SCOE to prioritize educators over age 70 as well as childcare providers and school staff who were currently serving children in-person. Then, we were able to move on to the next phase, which included several small elementary school districts. These districts were chosen because they serve a high percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged students AND for their size: We needed to start small so that we could perfect our systems before scaling up to larger districts. We were building this system from the ground up!
Who Will be Vaccinated Next?
We will continue to vaccinate Tk-6 staff who have not already been vaccinated, until this group is complete. Then, we will move on to secondary school staff and office staff, before vaccinating SRJC and SSU staff.
Vaccine Clinic Canceled for the Week of March 1
Unfortunately, California is again experiencing vaccine shortages. As a result, the Public Health Department informed us on Thursday, Feb. 25 that no additional doses of vaccine will be available for the week of March 1-5. As a result, the SCOE Vaccination Clinic will be closed next week, reopening on March 8 if the supply of vaccine increases. For the past two weeks, the Public Health Department received a much reduced allocation of vaccine and needs this limited supply to meet future requests for second doses.
We know this news is discouraging, but here is the good news: We have a robust system in place and are ready to begin administering 4,000 doses per week moving forward. We will be ready to resume vaccinating educators at Rancho Cotate High School as soon as the supply of vaccine increases. We remain confident that the supply will increase in the coming weeks.
School Staff Do Not Need to Use the SCOE Clinic if They Can Get Vaccinated Faster Somewhere Else
In the meantime, we encourage school staff to get vaccinated through other means if options are made available, such as through your healthcare provider or a local clinic. In some cases, community health clinics in parts of the county have offered to partner with their local school districts to vaccinate school staff in those areas. This is separate from SCOE and our prioritization, but we encourage and support it. The faster those staff get vaccinated, the faster we can move through our priority tiers.
As with so many things in the age of COVID-19, vaccination is complicated and subject to changes and setbacks. Thank you for your patience as we work hard to vaccinate all staff as soon as possible. SCOE is one of the few county offices in the state to run their own vaccine clinic, and we are proud of our efforts, which have increased the speed at which school staff can be immunized in our community.
We will continue to provide updates as we learn more.
Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.
Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools
Jeff Harding, Ed.D.
Sonoma County Office of Education Vaccine Coordinator